The Greenbrier Ghost

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Story time!

On this day 124 years ago Erasmus Shue died at the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville.

Mr. Shue was the only person known to have been convicted of murder by the testimony of a ghost.

On January 23, 1897, Elva Zona Heaster Shue, Erasmus’ wife, was found dead in her home in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, by a young boy sent to the house by her husband.

Shue rushed home and carried his wife’s body upstairs and placed it on the bed, dressing the corpse himself, which was unusual, in a high necked dress with a stiff collar before the coroner arrived. During the time the coroner was there, he refused to allow an extensive examination.
Zona was buried the next day.

Soon Zona’s mother reported that her daughter appeared to her in a dream, saying that her husband had attacked her in a fit of rage because she had not cooked any meat for supper. He broke Zona’s neck and to prove it the ghost turned her head around until her head was facing backwards.
Mrs. Heaster convinced the local prosecutor to open a case, resulting in an exhumation of Mona’s body. Upon examination, it was discovered that Zona’s neck was, indeed, broken and that marks of fingers were on her throat. Mr. Shue was arrested and tried in the case, in which plenty of damning testimony of his past marriages and abuse came out.

At trial Mrs. Heaster told the story of the visit of her daughter in a dream. Although the defense tried to trip her up on cross-examination, she refused to budge from her story.

Erasmus Shue was found guilty of the murder of his wife on July 11, 1897, and sentenced to life in prison.

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